Margaret Sanger was the founder of Planned Parenthood. Her views on eugenics, race, and the poor have made her the target of attacks from Pro-Life supporters.

What I want to know, is: Are the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood disproportionate to the population by race? (income is pretty much a given)

  • Should I include links to the claims by Pro-Life supporters that make the claim?

  • Should I include links to Margaret Sanger's writings? (These include quotes that debunk some interpretations of her writings that Pro-Lifers use to claim her racism, but also include her thoughts on eugenics, the poor, and the unfit)

Does Margaret Sanger's writings have any bearing on the question, or should I leave it to the answerers to decide if her writings can clarify her motives for creating Planned Parenthood? (and the current results)

  • are you trying to actually ask a question or are you trying to prove some point? Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 14:18

4 Answers 4


I was trying to think of an example and came up with this. The example is exaggerated for effect.

You could ask this question:

Was the war in Iraq succesful?

A tough question to answer, but a valid question.

But you could also ask it like this:

Many say GW Bush was an idiot and lied to go to war and ended up killing many American soldiers. Was the war in Iraq succesful?

It's the same question, but based on a very specific (and most would agree, biased) premise.

Alternatively, one could ask it like this:

Many say GW Bush was brilliant and was justified to go to war and ended up saving countless Iraqi citizens from a terrible regime. Was the war in Iraq succesful?

Again, same question. But now completely biased in the other direction.

So ask yourself what you are truly asking. If it's just the question, then skip setting up the premise (unless you are interested in exploring all sides, which can be tough). If, on the other hand, you truly believe in the premise, then consider changing the question to ask about the premise itself.

  • @user1873 I think you worded that question well!
    – user1530
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 3:06

It looks to me as though you're more interested in proving something than actually asking a question in this case.

The question title you have: Are the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood disproportionate to the population by race? practically stands alone. You really don't need to include any extra information.

Burt it looks like you're planning on including this narrative including some of Margret Sanger's views, and suggesting that she created Planned Parenthood for eugenics purposes.

When you do that, it stops being an actual question. You're writing a persuasive article. This might be encouraged as the OP for a political discussion forum, but Stack Exchange is Q&A, not discussion.

  • I wish I could up-vote this 50 times. Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 15:18
  • 1
    @RobertCartaino - on SFF, the general consensus seems to be that the questions are greatly enhanced by explaining the context of WHY a question is asked and relevant. While I don't wholly agree with that stance, I don't see how explaining the relevance of the question in any way diminishes its usefulness.
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 16:06
  • 1
    @DVK Sometimes, but it does diminish the chances of this becoming a decent Q&A when "explaining the relevance of the question" becomes a thinly-veiled excuse debate and soapbox provocative quotes. Seems you can justify just about any question on this site by ending with with the right buzzwords — as if adding "Are there any studies to support this?" somehow gives it the appearance of canonical objectivity. I discussed what Politics SE should be here: meta.politics.stackexchange.com/questions/289/…. I've pretty much given up that battle. Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 16:40
  • 2
    @DVK It's perfectly acceptable to give context of a question and explain why the question is relevant so long as you're actually still asking a question, but the question the OP is describing sounds like a rhetorical question, where the answer is already presumed. Questions here are for solution-seeking, not for persuasion. Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 17:03
  • @SamIam - that seems to be considered a perfectly OK attitude even when the answer is not merely presumed, but when the statement in the question is false: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/1211/… . No attempt to even try and prove that conservatives ARE associated with denying global warming.
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 18:02
  • No attempt to even try and prove that conservatives ARE associated with denying global warming And that's part of what makes it a question: that it's not trying to prove something. Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 18:06
  • @DVK, I see your point. I think I know the best way to word the question.
    – user1873
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 19:32
  • @SamIam - no, he's trying to prove that conservatives are anti-science (note the refusal to change it to more truthful AGW from GW). Hence the question. Otherwise the question would have been "are there differences between professed level of belief of anthropogenic global warming between US political parties" and not pre-assumed "association" statement
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:26
  • @dvk "more truthful AGW from GW" = adding political spin to a question is exactly what we're trying to explain to user1873 as being not-so-great for this site. If the question is about the spin, I think that's fine, but needs to ask that directly.
    – user1530
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:44
  • @DA. - wait. Why exactly do you consider a false premise (that conservatives are skeptical of GW) to be a NON biased, whereas a TRUE premise (that they are against specifically AGW) a biased spin? What this site succeeded in so far is make it crystal clear that the questions and answers that make conservatives look bad are welcome no matter how idiotic or inane, and those that make liberals look bad are hounded using the hollowest of excuses that aren't applied to any other questions.
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 23:48
  • @DA. - Wanna bet that a question asking "why are liberals associated with rejection of vaccination" will be immediately closed as non-constuctive and severely downvoted?
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 23:51
  • @DVK let me ask you this. Is there a large number of people who BELIEVE that republicans are skeptical of GW? Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 0:01
  • @SamIam - don't see the relevance. There are enough people that the question isn't "too localized". Or are you implying that any theory no matter the merits held by a large enough amount of people is fair game for this site, no matter if it's wrong or right? (JFK murder... Obama being Muslim... Any random fractional reserve banking idiocy spouted by Paulians and OWS; ... ZOG... - well, ZOG would be a popular one with Mr Evan).
    – user4012
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 0:49
  • @dvk the bias is trying to create a distinction between GW and AGW. That distinction only exists in the context of political rhetoric. The distinction is a non-issue in the scientific context.
    – user1530
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 1:32
  • As for 'betting' on your question, I don't know if that type of question would be closed. I don't know if anti-vaccine rhetoric leans more towards one political side than the other. Ask the question. Let's find out!
    – user1530
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 1:34

You actually have TWO questions here, so I'd break them up.

One is "Are the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood disproportionate to the population by race?" I'd leave Margaret Sanger out of this, because she is a "side issue." And she is so "controversial," it just muddies the discusson.

The second question is "What did Margaret Sanger's life and work contribute to the modern abortion/planned parenthood debate?" Here, Margaret Sanger is CENTRAL to your question, so you need to put her in, even if she is "controversial."

If I wanted to refer to Margaret Sanger in the first question, I'd ask the second question first, then paste a link to it in the first question. Then let people decide whether they want to read about Margaret Sanger in connection with birth control/abortion, or just the topic itself.


I'm going to strongly recommend that you don't ask this question. "Are the number of abortions performed at Planned Parenthood disproportionate to the population by race?" Is problematic statics. First you have to think about the racial proportions with respect to those that show up at Planned Parenthood, not to the population in general. If only Caucasians showed up at PP, and many of them were given abortions, that wouldn't mean PP was committing genocide against whites.

Second, a quick reading of the Wikipedia article will show that Margaret Sanger was focussed on contraception, not abortion (she died before Roe v Wade). Planned Parenthood shifted to focus on abortion only after her death. Therefore bringing her views into the equation will only muddy the waters.

  • 1
    Wy exactly would it be problematic? We ask this sort of question all the time, blacks disproportionately suspended from school, punishment for crimes (death penalty), victims of gun violence, affected by the sequester/global warming/etc. Do they ever state thT those statistics are problematic, and what you really need are the numbers of blacks sent to the principals office, who commit violent crimes, are in gangs, live of the teet of the giant state, ...
    – user1873
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 4:51

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